For those of you who don’t know, PlayOn by MediaMall is a handy little DLNA uPnP server application capable of transcoding web video services like Hulu, Netflix, YouTube and Amazon, and shipping them out over your network to DLNA clients like your Xbox 360, PS3, or internet connected TV.
It’s one of the few consistent ways to keep Hulu running on your TV without the network powers that be breaking access. As long as it’s been available, it’s sold for $20 and offered a 14-day trial to test compatibility with devices not officially supported. This is all about to change.
Per a letter sent to current PlayOn users (myself included) yesterday evening, PlayOn will be transitioning to “PlayOn Premium” subscription service as of May 15, 2010. The new subscription service will be sold for $39.99 for the first year and $19.99 per year afterward, a hefty increase from the old purchase price. New “Premium” content services will include Comedy Central channel, NHL channel, PBS, TV.com, and the promise of more to come.
Current licensed users shouldn’t fret too much, as their current level of service will remain unchanged under the name “PlayOn Basic”, with the option to opt-in to “Premium” for $4.99 for the first year, then $19.99/year afterward. Unfortunately, the “Basic” level service won’t be offered for sale past the May 15 cut-off date. For those of you interested in the core software but less interested in the “Premium” add-on content, I’d highly recommend you grab a license in the next two weeks.
See PlayOn’s letter to current users below image:
Hello PlayOn Customer,
There are some exciting changes coming to PlayOn. We wanted to take a moment of your time to review those changes with you and make clear what will happen over the next few months. PlayOn is launching a new product (called “PlayOn Premium”) which will be sold for $39.99 for the first year and $19.99 per year thereafter (annual subscription plan). In conjunction with this, we will no longer be selling the current version of PlayOn to new customers. BUT, as a current customer that has already purchased PlayOn, you do not need to buy anything new. The PlayOn you have today will continue to work, continue to be supported, and require you to spend no more money. Your version of PlayOn (which we are calling PlayOn Basic) will continue to have all of the content you currently have with one exception: the beta versions of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report will be moved into the Premium version of the product when we launch full Comedy Central support in May. We released that portion of The Comedy Central content channel early (in beta) as a way to temporarily accommodate our customers after Hulu dropped those shows. We want to thank those of you that provided feedback and helped us to expedite a more stable version of this content channel.
As an early customer of PlayOn, you will have the opportunity to upgrade to PlayOn Premium at a Founding Member discount. If you OPT to move to PlayOn Premium, you will get the new Comedy Central channel, NHL channel , PBS, TV.com, and the many new content channels we plan to release during the coming year. As a Founding Member, you can get your first year of PlayOn Premium for only $4.99 (regularly $39.99). You will then be billed $19.99 after 12 months for your second year (and each year thereafter). You will need to continue to stay current on your subscription for PlayOn Premium to continue to work. If you opt not to renew your subscription after the first year, you can simply re-enter your original license code and return to PlayOn Basic (the same product you have today). It will continue to work and still support Hulu, Netflix, CBS, CNN, ESPN, YouTube, Amazon VOD and all of the channels it supports today (excluding Comedy Central). We want to stress that upgrading is 100% optional. You do not need to pay us another cent, and your PlayOn Basic will continue to work, but you will not receive future content channels.
As a PlayOn Basic customer, you will have access to previews of the Premium content between May 20, 2010 and July 15, 2010. These content channels will be marked (Premium Preview), and will give you a taste of PlayOn Premium. If you have not upgraded by July 15th, these Premium channels will disappear from your PlayOn. There is nothing for you to do prior to July 15th. You will be getting everything that PlayOn Premium subscribers get until July 15th. After July 15th, you will need to purchase an upgrade to continue to receive the Premium channels.
So in summary:
* PlayOn is moving to an annual subscription plan, called PlayOn Premium.
* Existing customers can keep the PlayOn they have today without paying any more money. All current content channels will continue to work and be supported for the life of the product (excluding the Daily Show and Colbert Report).
* Existing customers (anyone who purchased prior to May 20th, 2010) will be given the opportunity to upgrade to PlayOn Premium for $4.99 for the first year.
* Existing customers that upgrade can return to their current version (PlayOn Basic) after a year or be renewed at $19.99/year.
* As an existing customer there is nothing for you to buy yet. We’ll let you know when upgrades are available (some time in early July).
* As an existing customer, you will be able to watch ALL of the Premium content until July 15th, 2010 when you can choose to upgrade or not. If you do not upgrade (for $4.99), the Premium content channels will disappear from your version of PlayOn.
* As of May 20th all new customers (not you) will be required to purchase PlayOn as an annual subscription and pay an annual subscription fee for the product to continue to work.
Thanks again for your support. Exciting times are ahead for PlayOn and we’re glad to have you along for the ride.
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Stephen Hopkins is chief technology editor for EH Publishing. He writes product reviews, features, and focuses heavily on 3D TV, iPhone and iPad apps, and digital content.